March 27, 2023

3 ways to make sure TV and print ads are driving next-best actions


Danielle Hay

Principal, Client Strategy & Operations

Pharmaceutical and medical device brands are spending billions of dollars per year on advertising - and although a lot of that spend is on digital channels like social media, paid search, retargeting ads, and more, the TV and print advertising industry is still getting their share of the advertising pie. In a recent report by MediaRadar, they found:

  • In 2021, TV spots accounted for more than 70% of total spending, increasing 3% from 2020 to hit $5 billion. 
  • In 2022, pharma advertisers spent 9% ($590 million) of their yearly budgets on print advertising.

Most marketers will tell you that one of the challenges of TV and print advertising is making sure those channels are actually working. It’s generally easy to get a rough idea of how many impressions your ads are getting, which is of course a good thing. But an even better thing is to be able to understand what those audiences are doing next. Are they searching for your brand online and finding your brand site? Are they calling up their HCP? Or are they leaving the room or turning the page? If they do ultimately end up a patient after visiting your site, what are the steps they took to get to that place?

Getting eyes on a TV or print ad is an essential part of your marketing strategy - but it is keeping the attention of those eyes, and then understanding how those eyes translate into other actions, that is the key to maximizing your marketing funnel.

Here are three ways to make sure TV and print advertising helps your audience take next-best actions.

#1. Don’t force your viewers to search for you.

Could your TV and print ad viewers do an Internet search for your brand? Of course they could. Will TV and print ad viewers actually seek out your brand? That’s a whole different question. So why not take the guesswork out of it entirely? Give them an easy way to connect with your brand directly from that ad.

What does that look like? A few possibilities here.

Give them a QR code.

Back in 2019, it may have seemed like QR codes were dead - but COVID sure changed that trend. (Remember paper menus?!) In fact, according to QR Code Tiger, 83.4 million US users scanned a QR code at least once in 2022, to either purchase a product or take advantage of a service. 

QR codes are now a common sight on signage and advertisements of all kinds, and there’s no reason the life sciences industry shouldn’t follow suit. Don’t make your ad viewer remember how to spell your brand name - let them use their phone to connect directly to you via a QR code. 

Give them an SMS short code.

Did you know that 79% of TV viewers in the US use their phones during a commercial break (Sharethrough)? And it’s a safe bet to assume that a fair amount of that time is spent texting. Why not take advantage of that texting culture to let your ad viewers text…you? SMS short codes (think “Text INFO to 55555”) are an easy way to automate 1:1 interaction with ad viewers, helping them get the information they need without the hassle of finding it themselves. Plus, it's another opportunity to meet your audience where they are. (According to Esendex, 90% is the average open rate for text messages, and users are eight times more likely to respond to text messages than emails.)

Give them a [gasp] phone number. 

I know, I know: Who makes phone calls anymore? Actually, people do - and if you’re serving an audience who might be less likely to have the latest iPhone and more likely to miss the simplicity of flip-phone life (or even life before cell phones at all), sometimes a phone number can go a long way. Putting a phone number in an ad gives a way for a viewer to take real action, immediately. And if they do take that action, make sure that they have the value of a live discussion with a human who can provide them personalized support (and not an automated menu). This gives brands an opportunity to make themselves available to meet their audience where they are - and to do so not just digitally, but humanly.

#2. Offer a virtual hand-holding experience.

If a TV or print ad viewer just searches for your brand, they’re going to find themselves on your website. But once they’re there - what happens next? 

According to Fierce Pharma, one survey found that 46% of users who got answers to their healthcare questions took next-best actions the same day. This means that, in order to make sure your audience does the same, you should make sure you’re there to help them on the way. Don’t just force them to navigate your website on their own - give them a virtual hand-holding experience that helps them do it. 

Do your consumers want to know about cost? Do they want to know how the product is administered? Do they want to know about side effects? If you have a mechanism for understanding what your audience wants to know in the first place, you can make sure they actually find it. Your brand’s TV and print ads should be about raising awareness - but once your audience is aware, you have to make sure you offer them a way to quickly find what they want to learn.

#3. Measure actual actions from TV and print advertising sources.

Lastly, let’s talk about data.

Impression counts from TV and print advertising are great leading indicators for a successful campaign, but what if you could identify additional ways to show the value of your creative and well-designed TV and print ads? Why solely focus on impressions at a moment in time, when you could directly monitor how many people interacted with your brand from advertising that offered QR codes, SMS codes, or phone support? You'll gain full visibility into your earlier traffic audiences and separate those from lower-funnel traffic that will benefit from different information and key actions.

Because QR codes, SMS codes, and phone support allow you to interact with a consumer directly, and because you’re starting them on that journey right from that ad, you’re going to get a lot more visibility about how those ads are actually working. How many people interacted with your brand from QR codes, SMS codes, or phone support? What were the outcomes? And how do their actions compare to the actions of users who come in from other channels?

It’s possible to understand all of this when you enhance your TV and print advertising with QR codes, SMS short codes, and phone support.

The bottom line

So - what is your brand doing to make sure you’re fueling your top of funnel activities with measurable activities? If you want to meet your audience where they are, offer personalized experiences that demonstrate empathy, and make it easier to provide your audience with the information they need to take the next step, Ostro can help. Drop us a line!